Flint gets $15M to help women, infants exposed to lead
The federal government will provide about $15 million toward health and social services for women, infants and their families who are at risk for lead exposure in Flint and surrounding areas, officials said Friday.
The funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will go to the Genesee County Healthy Start Program to help residents with health problems linked to lead contamination of Flint’s water supply.
“The Trump administration is taking important steps to support the residents of Flint, Michigan, as the need for vital resources remains critical to the health of their community,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in a statement.
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, said he was pleased to learn of the funding.
“This significant investment is welcome news for my hometown, which is still recovering from the water crisis,” Kildee said. “Healthy Start funding will go a long way toward helping Flint families and children mitigate the effects of lead poisoning by expanding access to health care and child development services.”
Flint’s water became contaminated with lead after state-appointed emergency managers switched its water source from the Detroit water system to the corrosive Flint River without applying corrosion control chemicals.
The corrosive water caused lead to leach from the city’s aging pipes into the water supply and has been connected to more than 12 Legionnaires’ disease deaths and the lead poisoning of some residents.
Michigan officials still urge Flint residents to drink either bottled or filtered water. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Lead exposure can cause miscarriage, developmental delays in infants and other medical problems. Lead can remain in the bones for decades, exposing women and infants through pregnancy and breastfeeding.
“Ongoing screening, follow-up, and attention to children’s development all support recovery from Flint’s enduring public health crisis as a result of lead exposure,” said George Sigounas, administrator of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. “The funding we’re announcing today represents one of many ways we are working to assist families in this community.”
The Genesee County Healthy Start Program will identify children who were exposed to lead from the contaminated water, provide access to recommended services and minimize developmental delays. The program also will coordinate access to medical, behavioral, and developmental screening and services for affected women, children and their families.
For more information about the Healthy Start Program, go tomchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/healthy-start.